Saturday, 5 October 2013

The red room

The door is plain varnished wood, the kind of cheap fire retardant door used in low-rent housing and offices. It has a chrome handle and a deadlock. The room beyond it is about twelve by twelve feet, but has no window. It’s too large to have been intended as a cupboard, suggesting that either a window has been boarded over, or the room has been created by partitioning a larger space. Illumination comes from a single florescent strip light on the ceiling. Depressions in the ceiling paper, however, suggest that there was a previous circular light fitment. The vent of an air conditioning unit is positioned high in the far right corner as viewed from the door. The controls are fitted to the wall below – a small white box with two knobs, one marked with an off position and five fan speeds, the other marked ‘Temp’ and with nine graduations of which only ‘Min’ and ‘Max’ are labelled. The controls are off and the temperature control is set to ‘Min’.

The ceiling and walls are papered with a woodchip paper, emulsioned in red. The skirting boards have been painted the same way.

Some areas of wall have a different treatment. A section from the skirting board to about four feet high and seven feet wide, behind the bed, has a tiger-print paper. A section from floor to ceiling and about four feet wide, on the left-hand wall as one enters the room, is padded in black faux leather. It is held in place with two lengths of timber, one either side, each with an eye bolt at the top and bottom. Directly opposite, on the right-hand wall, is a cheap floor-to-ceiling mirror, silvered behind a slightly fogged acrylic or plastic. In the ceiling, between this mirror and the door, there is an eye bolt. There is another similar, but smaller, mirror behind the bed above the tiger-print paper.

A similar mirror is attached to the ceiling above the bed.

Electric sockets are to either side of the bed.

The carpet comprises red carpet tiles, the kind that might be used in an office or shop. The four carpet tiles under the ceiling eye bolt, and those next to the lower of the bolts on the timbers next to the faux leather, are significantly more worn than the others. The floor has not been recently vacuumed: there is a small amount of visible hair and fabric lint.

The bed is a standard double in size, four and a half by seven feet. It is of robust, probably handmade, construction: the four corner posts are waist high and could easily have been made from recycled telegraph poles; the sides and headboard are joist timbers, lengths of five by two inch wood. The timber has been planed and varnished to make it smooth. The mattress is slightly concave. It is either old or has seen a great deal of use. The sheet is red, a shade brighter than the walls and a little rumpled. There is one pillow with a red cover.

The corner posts of the bed each have an anchor point set into them – a metal D-ring welded to a small square plate and secured to flattened areas of the posts with four screws. The D-rings all have chains padlocked to them, about eighteen inches in length; and the other ends of the chains have heavy cuffs attached, again with padlocks. The cuffs are similar in style to those used in some custodial settings – brown padded leather, closing with buckles but with a design that enables the leather tongue, once fed through the buckle, to be secured also with a smaller padlock.

The keys to all the padlocks are on a keyring which lies on the carpet under the foot of the bed. With them are four additional padlocks and three lengths of chain, each of around thirty inches. Also under the bed is a small grey plastic waste basket. This is empty and therefore condom wrappers, used condoms, tissues and, perhaps, other waste such as pill bottles or the wrappings and packaging of other stimulants are entirely absent.

The pillow has traces of pink lipstick, streaks of black mascara and a saliva stain that is still slightly damp. The bedsheet has several small stains, three of them seminal fluid from two different men and two of them vaginal secretions, both from the same woman. Three others are from perspiration, situated underneath where a person’s shoulders and buttocks would lie if they had been spread-eagled on the bed. There are in total eight hairs on the sheet of which four are black, probably dyed, and eight to twelve inches in length; two are grey and one inch in length; one is brown and about three inches; and one blonde, six inches long.
Analysis of residual auditory impressions on the walls reveal the following:

– a series of muffled moans and shrieks, probably from a female.

– a series of impact sounds that could be either clapping, or slapping or spanking of bare flesh.

– the words ‘What’s Britney going to do now?’, probably from a male voice.

– the words ‘You worked hard to get punished, bitch. Now enjoy it!’. The voice is male and deeper than the previous one.

– metallic sounds that could have come from the chains, with soft grunts and what are probably footsteps.

– the words ‘Oh fuck. Ohhh… fuck. Fuck!’ spoken slightly breathlessly and ascending in pitch.

Analysis of residual light retention in the mirrors reveals the following:

– in the full-length wall mirror, the nude body of a woman standing. The view is of her front and runs from mid-thigh to just above her mouth, which appears to be filled with a ball-gag. Her age could be anything from late teens to a woman in her late thirties who has retained her figure. The position suggests she may be chained by the wrists to the overhead eye bolt but this cannot be confirmed. An undetermined event causes her to shudder, a sideways movement of her hips followed by the muscles tensing around her stomach and then a slight bounce of her breasts.

– in the full-length wall mirror, an image of a woman seen from behind. She is on her knees. She has shoulder-length black hair. She faces a stocky figure dressed in black, presumably a man. He is out of focus and the image, as with the previous one, does not include his face. The position of the two figures is suggestive of oral sex but this cannot be confirmed from the image.

– in the mirror above the bed: a complex image that may be a composite of several time periods. It shows one person, from the physique presumably female, cuffed and spread-eagled to the bed but not much of her apart from the limbs is visible. There are two superimposed figures, from the back and their physiques presumably male, lying on top of her in what, in a sexual context, would be a missionary position. One has short grey hair and the other brown hair. There is a fourth figure visible only as the top of a head with blonde hair, shoulders and breasts, kneeling in the position that would place her on the face of the woman tied to the bed. And there are five others in the room, standing three on one side of the bed and two on the other. Whether these are the same figures at a different point in time, or observers of a scene being played out on the bed, is open to question. At least one of the male figures on the bed could easily also be one of those situated to one side of the bed but this can only be speculation based on hair colour and breadth of shoulders.


Those of you who have a literary background may have come across something known as 'thick description'. Those of you who haven't come across it in that context probably know something about it from the postmortem scenes in TV crime series, which often give detailed descriptive detail of bodies. Those of you who have any interest in narratology are probably aware that the discipline makes a distinction between description and narrative, among other literary forms, but also recognises that the distinction can be fluid. But then I guess most people who read newspapers or watch TV would be aware of that, because the choice of words used in news reports that 'only give the facts' are often intended to convey information that links the story to a wider context and to the media's beliefs, values or preferred narratives. And TV crime series, again, offer the idea of a detectives constructing a narrative out of physical and other evidence.

So here you have some thick description that is also, through the use of a retrospective and 'evidence based' perspective, offering a narrative of 'what happened' - though it relies on some science-fictional techniques that, oddly enough, may soon be feasible and are currently being investigated by physicists.

If you're interested, the description is based on a room that used to exist, though probably no longer does. It was in the chambers of a pro domme I used to know, which took up the upper floors of an office building. Because it was close to the city's business district, most of the clients came on weekdays at lunchtimes or early in the evening. Hence she sometimes used it to host fetish events at weekends. And the description could have been even thicker - if I remember rightly there was also a small CCTV camera in the room so someone at reception could see what was going on in there.

And I haven't bothered to describe the corridor leading to the room (white and green tiles on the walls up to waist height, I believe, and then painted cream), the staining on the woodwork from hands clutching at it or running along it, the epithelial traces on the walls and carpet, or the streaks on the ceiling left by the use of whips. Or maybe I'm misremembering that last bit. The marks were more likely those I left on the ceiling in a studio flat I used to live in, which wasn't quite big enough for the 7-foot bullwhip I occasionally employed in play sessions.

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